Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Black Guillemot

(1) The Black Guillemot
(1) The Black Guillemot
(2) B.G.
(2) B.G.
(3) B.G.
(3) B.G.
(4) B.G.
(4) B.G.
(5) B.G.
(5) B.G.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
The Black Guillemot.
 
 
This week’s pair of birds are a pair that have been nesting under Rothesay Pier for years now.
These are “Black Guillemots” or Tysties as they are called in some areas,
 
 
They are diving birds, which frequent our shores, preferring the shallower areas where they stay submerged for up to one minute, in their search for food, which consists of sand eels and butterfish, which is a bottom feeding fish which frequent rocks and seaweed and also sand and muddy flats. These are their main diet but will eat molluscs and crustaceans if no other food is available. They are handsome looking birds in the summertime, with their jet black bodies and head, with bright white wing patches that make them stand out in a crowd. They also have very dark eyes which do not photo very well as you will see, or in this case, you will not see in the one that I took of them. They have red legs and the inside of their mouth (gape) is also bright red, but you will not see it very often as they only reveal it when they are threatened, or in courtship displays.
 
They are members of the “Auk” Family which takes in Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and Little Auks. A pleasure to watch as they search for food in Rothesay Bay, and many other pairs around Bute. Many years ago as I was helping to count the Eider population, I also counted the Black Guillemots and came up with a total of seventy three around Bute and Inchmarnock, which is good as the population is estimated to be about nine thousand pairs around Britain about ten years ago. Our wee island with its shallow water with many sand banks is a safe haven for these species. They do suffer at times with oil spillages, as the oil eventually ends up on our shores giving all sea birds a coating. Also they will at times fall foul of the mink, which will come across the nest as they move around the rugged coastline. It will soon be the time that these birds moult and lose their striking plumage to become a mottled grey, yet still retain their white wing patches. They nest in the crevices amongst boulders, either in small groups or in pairs only. The biggest nest area that I have seen is in Ardrossan Harbour where there are many pairs in holes bringing up their chicks, and thus giving the public a really good view of them as they bring in food. As there are many nooks and crannies under our pier, we may end up with a few more breeding pairs in the future, giving us and ferry passengers a good view, as they do not seem to be bothered with boats or people, and although they spend most of their time in water, they will at times land on the pier, but not very often.
 
 
Norrie Mulholland

First Published in the Buteman 08-08-2003

Please excuse poor images as they are photos of photos.

 

 

 

 

 


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